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Disability Groups Demand Access to North Carolina’s Inaccessible Absentee Voting

July 27, 2020 – Raleigh, NC – Today, disability organizations filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina State Board of Elections (“NCSBOE”) for excluding North Carolinians with disabilities from their Absentee Voting program.

The lawsuit charges the state agency with discrimination against voters who are unable to independently and privately mark a paper ballot due to vision disabilities. All North Carolinians deserve to vote safely and independently, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

The lawsuit was filed the day after the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by a coalition of groups including Disability Rights Advocates, Disability Rights North Carolina, the North Carolina Council of the Blind, the Governor Morehead School Alumni Association, Inc., and several North Carolina voters with disabilities, including Jo Taliaferro, Kenneth Durden, Kendall Gibbs, and Dr. Ricky Scott.

Glove Translates Sign Language in Real-time

July 6 2020

BIOENGINEERS have built a glove able to translate sign language to speech in real-time.

The cutting-edge glove features thin, stretchable sensors running to the fingertips. These sensors can detect motions and finger placement through electrically conducting yarns. Those sensors are then connected to a tiny circuit board ” approximately the size of a coin worn on users’ wrists.

When people move their hands and fingers to form ‘words’, the glove translates the individual letters, numbers, words and phrases into audible language.

Deaf Community Encounters New Challenges

The now mandatory masks make lip reading, facial cues impossible Andrea Yu
Toronto Star, July 9, 2020

For the deaf and hard of hearing, COVID-19 adds extra challenges for communicating in public.

We’ve all been told to avoid touching our face to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But for Thinaja Nadarajah, this public health advice is complicated. Nadarajah is deaf and American Sign Language is her first language.

“There’s a lot of touching of the face when signing,” she says. “We often communicate by touch, like tapping on the shoulder to get someone’s attention.”

AbleDocs Inc. and axes4 GmbH Announce Merger to Become the Worldwide Leader in Document Accessibility Products and Services

July 01, 2020

TORONTO & ZURICH–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AbleDocs Inc. the leading PDF accessibility service provider, and axes4 GmbH, the preeminent developer of leading-edge PDF/UA compliant software today announce their merger to become the worldwide leader in PDF accessibility products and services.

The deal combines the joint brain trust of recognized global accessibility leaders under one roof with the goal of continuing to provide unparalleled document accessibility services and industry leading PDF/UA compliant software offerings.

With a long-standing record of joint collaboration, both companies’ founders and leadership teams couldn’t be more excited to leverage each other’s capabilities to offer their existing and new clients the best in PDF/UA products and services.

Hong Kong’s Visually Impaired Deprived of Covid-19 Information With Half of Chinese-Language News Apps Inaccessible, NGO Finds

Hong Kong Blind Union says 2,000 kept out of the loop over city’s infected tally, mask availability and other important updates
Five of the 10 Chinese-language media reviewed fell short in areas such as font size and screen display Victor Ting
Published: Apr, 2020

Visually impaired people in Hong Kong are struggling to get hold of crucial information about the coronavirus because half of the city’s major Chinese-language news organisations do not have accessible smartphone apps, a local disability group has said.

With more than 2.9 million people infected worldwide, including 1,037 locally, an investigation by Hong Kong Blind Union revealed Covid-19’s “disproportionate” impact on the 2,000 visually challenged residents the non-governmental organisation represents.

Innovative Masks to Help Persons with Visual Impairment

Middle East, News
April 24 2020

ISRAEL: For the hearing impaired, this is no easy task, as it adds an extra layer of difficulty to their ability to communicate, often times with various service providers such as doctors and nurses. As face masks have become an inseparable part of the lives of millions of Israelis there are those who may have more trouble with the new law requiring to wear them.

“Masks of this type improve the accessibility and communication of handicapped people who use lip reading, as well as people with an intellectual disability,” said Yuval Wagner, CEO of the “Access Israel.”

Provincial government Responds to the CNIB Foundation About Accessibility Issues with Ontario Health Card Renewal Process

Over the last few months, the CNIB Foundation has been asking the Ontario government to ensure Ontarians who are blind, partially sighted or Deafblind have equal access to renewing their health card online. As it stands, a person needs a valid Ontario driver’s licence, which is unacceptable because it prevents Ontarians with sight loss from using the same process.

At the end of March, we received a response from Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. In her letter, Minister Thompson states:

“Renewing the Ontario health card online has been a government pilot project, and currently, Ontarians need a driver’s licence to renew their health card online. But we realize this approach does not work for everyone.

Morning Show Now with Dave Brown Puts News in the Lens of Disability

Melissa Hank
Updated: April 13, 2020

Back in February, when protesters fighting the Coastal GasLink pipeline project erected blockades on Via Rail routes across Canada, at least 42,000 passengers in the Montreal-Toronto-Ottawa triangle were stranded.

News outlets jumped on the shutdown and its related issues ” Indigenous land rights, environmental costs and government intervention. But, says morning show host Dave Brown, the coverage was missing something.

“Not one show talked about how it impacted the blind curling team coming back from the national championship in Ottawa. There’s a way that disability and accessibility played into that story that a lot of people were blind to,” he says.

The Live-Streaming Boom Proves That Accessibility in Live Music Can – and Should – Be a Priority

‘As soon as live music was taken away from everyone, suddenly it was made accessible to everyone’ Luke Ottenhof · CBC Arts · Posted: Apr 14, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has been disastrous for the music industry, but in the absence of corporeal gatherings, musicians and fans have adapted to communing online. This trend has transcended class boundaries in an explicitly tiered industry: everyone from Coldplay to your old university roommate who plays free jazz improv is streaming their live performances online for people to watch from home. It’s a newly popular workaround for an industry traditionally reliant on physical proximity.

Microsoft Joins Forces With Enable Ireland to Embed AI Into Assistive Technology Passport

Irish Tech News’March 12, 2020

Microsoft and Enable Ireland have joined forces today to announce a new commitment to embed AI into the Assistive Technology Passport which is being developed to empower people with disabilities to have an independent life. The announcement marks the 20th anniversary of Microsoft’s partnership with Enable Ireland.

Disabled Canadians Feel Excluded From COVID-19 Messaging

Michelle McQuigge / The Canadian Press
March 18, 2020

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair, Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Health Patty Hajdu and President of the Treasury Board Jean-Yves Duclos are flanked by sign language interpreters as they participate in a press conference on COVID-19 at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa, on Monday, March 16, 2020.

Karen McCall clicked eagerly on the link tweeted out by her provincial health ministry, keen to read the promised list of tips meant to help her protect against COVID-19.

Accessibility Essential for Alberta’s COVID-19 Updates: We have no choice but to wait

By Morgan Black -Global News
Posted March 16, 2020

On Monday, an ASL/English interpreter was present during an Alberta Health COVID-19 update for the first time.

It’s a significant moment for the deaf and hard of hearing community, which had called on the government to provide an interpreter or live captioning during the updates.

“It’s about accessibility,” said president of the Edmonton Association of the Deaf, Sarah Snively.

“Ever since the information was released about the pandemic, hearing individuals were kept informed by listening to what is being shared in real-time through all media outlets, while deaf people were left out.”

The BlindShell: An Accessible Cell Phone with Real Buttons

by Curtis Chong
Braille Monitor March 2020

From the Editor: Many of us have had an electronic partner that stays with us almost all the time. It is a smart phone. But many blind people have felt left out in this world of accessible phones, because they lack the interest or the dexterity to use a touchscreen. They want buttons, and they want menus they can hear and use to accomplish some of the tasks that their smart phone buddies using touch screens have.

Curtis Chong offers what may be a good solution. His credentials to evaluate and explain technology are well known to readers of the Braille Monitor, so let us go directly into his article:

Feeling The Accessibility Of Gift Cards

ByAmanda Fugazy
January 21, 2020

Remember all those gift cards you sold for the holidays? Little did you know that gift cards what was once thought of as the gift that keeps on giving, could soon be the gift that bites back.

Recently, a wave of lawsuits were filed against restaurants and retailers located in New York for their failure to sell gift cards that contain braille. These lawsuits allege violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law. New York hospitality employers who sell gift cards should be aware of this new and novel concept, and consider preparing proactively to avoid being faced with similar lawsuits.

eSSENTIAL Accessibility Secures $16 Million in Growth Funding

Business Wire
January 15, 2020

Lead Edge Capital spearheads the round to accelerate, scale and meet escalating demand for Accessibility-as-a-Service

TORONTO – eSSENTIAL Accessibility, the pioneering provider of Accessibility-as-a-Service, today announced the close of a $16 million USD investment round led by Lead Edge Capital.

Accessibility is a business mandate that has arrived with tremendous force. The consequences of not offering accessible experiences are costly and brand debilitating. This new financing will provide eSSENTIAL Accessibility with resources to expand its software platform and pursue rapid geographic expansion to meet escalating demand. It builds on an exceptional year for eSSENTIAL Accessibility which saw a rapidly growing roster of clients, key executive appointments, and market momentum in the white-hot areas of accessibility and inclusion.

Whitehorse Teen can Write eMails Using Her Eyes

‘It gives me a sense of pride to have one bit of independence,’ says Eva von Flowtow Jane Sponagle · CBC News · Posted: Dec 29, 2019

Eva von Flotow won’t take no for an answer.

The 19-year-old Whitehorse woman is fighting for more accessibility.

It’s a cause close to her heart; von Flotow uses a wheelchair. She has quadriplegic cerebral palsy with dystonia, which means she has difficulty controlling how she moves.

Von Flotow is already making change. The Vancouver International Airport is working on an accessible washroom with a lift after she wrote a letter saying none of the washrooms had a lift for people in wheelchairs.

Americans With Disabilities Have $200 Billion in Spending Power. Comcast Isn’t Leaving Them Behind

by Christian Hetrick, Updated: December 25, 2019

James Baldwin thought he’d never see his granddaughter’s face again.

The 18-year Army veteran started to lose his vision three years ago from an injury he suffered in the Gulf War. He lost his left eye and was left with limited vision in his right, reducing his sight to light and shadows. He can see shapes but not faces.

That was until October, when Baldwin put on a pair of NuEyes electronic glasses, which enhance the vision of visually impaired people. Suddenly, he could clearly see his wife sitting beside him. Leaves on trees. A picture of his granddaughter in her basketball uniform.

Accessibility, the Future, and Why Domino’s Matters

November 29, 2019

Technology is changing the way we interact with companies like Domino’s, for sure.

The US Supreme Court last week to weigh in on an argument that the Americans with Disabilities Act should not apply to websites and digital storefronts, leaving intact a lower ruling finding that the ADA does, indeed, apply to digital space. Internet and Web users with disabilities, as well as advocates for accessible design, are breathing a sigh of relief.

The Internet Is for Everyone, Right? Not With a Screen Reader

Blind users have been fighting for a more inclusive web for over 20 years. Are lawsuits like the one against Dominos going to make a difference?

A few weeks ago, Lucy Greco heard a story on NPR about more clothing retailers shuttering their stores and moving online. Oh, great, she thought, recalling some of her past experiences with online shopping: Youre clicking on something that says, graphic graphic graphic, or some numbered file name, or some gibberish like that.

How Technology Can Enable Restaurant Accessibility And Inclusiveness

As a restauranteur, you hope to provide a great experience for everyone who patronizes your establishment. But then the question arises, how does one accomplish this?
By Laura Boniello Miller, Corporate Business Development Manager, JAWS Kiosk program, Vispero – 10.11.2019

According to figures from the CDC, 26% of the United States population identifies with having a disability. That’s 61 million people who may need additional accommodations to enjoy a nice meal out. As a restauranteur, you hope to provide a great experience for everyone who patronizes your establishment. But then the question arises, how does one accomplish this?